Chicago Cubs: Bullpen should be club’s top priority during offseason

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Following an early departure, it’s time for the Chicago Cubs to focus on the future. Where should the attention be for this organization?

It’s no secret Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs could be in on outfielder Bryce Harper over the winter. Harper and third baseman Kris Bryant are close friends and have dropped little hints over the past few years.

However, nothing is ever set in stone. Either way, this club is set to have themselves another busy offseason. Despite being eliminated from the postseason, fans are looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Remember, Epstein worked his magic by snagging Jon Lester, Joe Maddon, Brandon Morrow, David Ross and Jason Heyward. Just a few names to drop. Who else is going to hop on the bandwagon in hopes of dethroning the surging Milwaukee Brewers?

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Milwaukee is currently fighting for their first World Series appearance in franchise history. Aside from an excellent offense, their bullpen has been top-tier. If not, the best in all of baseball right now.

We all know that the bullpen is one of the most important pieces to any baseball team. It’s great when you’re able to score runs but you need effective and consistent arms to prevent opposing teams from doing the same.

Common sense, right? For the Cubs, both Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop were the knights in shining armor. That is until they both hit the disabled list.

Injury bug

When both men fell, it felt like the entire weight of the world was placed on the bullpen’s shoulders. Morrow was spectacular in his first year with the Cubs, yielding five earned runs in 35 appearances.

In addition, he converted 22 of 24 saves, ending the year with a 1.97 earned run average, striking out 31 and walking nine. Well worth the two-year deal after his first-year performance.

While Morrow’s issue was with his back, Strop suffered an injury at the worst possible time as Chicago had themselves a small division lead. Pedro tweaked his hamstring running out a play in a questionable decision by skipper Joe Maddon.

Prior to the injured hamstring, Pedro surrendered only nine earned runs on 18 hits in his last 30 appearances for the Cubs. Not to mention, racking up 12 saves behind a 3-1 record, 2.79 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 28/11 K/BB ratio.

He returned for Chicago’s Wild Card showdown with the Colorado Rockies and picked up where he left off. Unfortunately, the offense, once again, didn’t show up.

Adding help

Outside of Jesse Chavez, the market for relief pitching is going to be pretty deep. For example, Cody Allen, Adam Ottavino, Sean Doolittle, Jeurys Familia, Kelvin Herrera, Blake Wood, and Zach Britton will be free agents.

Now, several of these men could be looking for a spot in which the closer role will be theirs. On the North Side, it appears that the job will belong to either Morrow or Strop heading into camp. But having the opportunity of competing for a division and World Series title under Maddon and this young team could sway some elite relief arms.

Next. Bryant not in the wrong. dark

Imagine, if Chicago manages to squeeze Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, the desire to play with the Cubs will be through the roof. Even higher than it was before they won it all in 2016. The point is, Epstein and Jed Hoyer need to provide Maddon with enough firepower if injuries strike as they did in 2018.

Plenty of talent out there. It’s all up to the front office to make things happen.